Concessions and Cafeterias: Healthy Food in the Federal Workplace

Improving health and wellness in America is a major priority for the U.S. government. There’s no better place to start than at the federal workplace itself. Healthier food at federal cafeterias and concessions can have an enormous impact: better choices for the two million civilian employees of the federal government and a precedent to follow for the rest of the country.

GSA is pleased to introduce the Health and Sustainability Guidelines for Federal Concessions and Vending Operations. These guidelines were developed in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services and represent the best practices in nutrition science for improving health and reducing impact to the environment. These Guidelines translate the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) into clear and definitive standards that food service operators can follow to make their operations healthier and more sustainable.

The Guidelines will be revised to reflect the latest version of the DGAs which are released by the Federal government every five years. The current 2015-2020 DGAs were released in January of 2016. New Guidelines based on the 2015-2020 DGAs are in development. In the interim, the current Guidelines should be referenced.

What do the new Health and Sustainability Guidelines for Federal Concessions and Vending Operations do for federal concessions?

Provide healthy choices

In alignment with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Health and Sustainability Guidelines encourage the availability of:

  • Seasonal vegetables and fruits.
  • Whole grain options, including pasta.
  • Vegetarian entrees.
  • Lean meat entrees.
  • Low-fat milk, yogurt and cottage cheese.
  • High fiber, low sugar cereals.
  • 100% fruit juice.
  • Freely available drinking water.
  • Foods with less sodium.
  • Foods free of synthetic sources of trans fats.

Enable sustainable practices

The Health and Sustainability Guidelines also encourage more sustainable food service practices, such as :

  • Offering incentives for using reusable beverage containers.
  • Using green cleaning and pest control practices.
  • Using compostable and bio-based trays, flatware, plates and bowls.
  • Offering food that is organically, locally or sustainably grown and labeled accordingly.
  • Where seafood options are offered, provide those procured from responsibly managed, sustainable, healthy fisheries.

Increase choice, not restrict choice

The Guidelines are designed to make healthy choices more accessible, more appealing, and more affordable. They are not designed to restrict choices.


The Health and Sustainability Guidelines are applicable to all food service concession operations and vending machines managed by GSA. GSA will work with concessions operators to progressively implement these guidelines into federal facilities as contracts expire and as opportunities to enhance offerings emerge.


Health and Sustainability Guidelines for Federal Concessions and Vending Operations [PDF - 1 MB]
2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Choose My Plate

Examples of Green Resources for Food Service Operators

GSA offers many examples of products and resources that vendors can use to help meet wellness and sustainability requirements.

  • Examples of green products can be found at the "environmental aisle" of GSA Advantage!
  • A full list of GSA's environmental initiatives can be found at the Go Green page, including examples of green products and services, recycling programs, and energy and water conservation programs all of which can be used to help meet sustainability requirements.
print Share Icon Last Reviewed 2018-03-22